William Cress Alexander
1920 - 2016
William Cress Alexander was called home to be with his Lord on June 30, 2016.
Bill was born on October 20, 1920 in Mooresville, North Carolina to Nancy Belle Brown and Phi Alexander. He had two younger brothers, Phi Jr., and Felix. As a boy, his mother died tragically in an accidental death, and his father later married his beloved stepmother Myrtle.
A ninth generation North Carolinian, Bill’s ancestry can be traced back to the 17th Century. He graduated from Moorseville high School in 1937, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in business in 1942. He was active in campus activities and governance, and remained a lifelong Tar Heel fan.
After graduation, Bill spent 3 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a training school instructor, and subsequently served aboard a troop transport in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II.
Following the war, Bill married Betty Stearns in Berkeley California, ultimately settling in the Los Angeles area. He worked briefly for the Signal Oil Corporation, but it was his fortuitous meeting with developer Lionel Mayell that set the course for his professional business life. After Bill joined the firm of Lionel Mayell Enterprises, a firm pioneering the concept of cooperatively owned apartments, Bill and Betty moved with their children, Jeffrey, Dana, and Nancy, to Santa Barbara, where he built his first condominium project in 1953. Bill’s work for Mayell was so successful that he soon went into business for himself as President of William Alexander and Associates. His award winning projects in Santa Barbara include Villa Capri Aire (State and Padre,) Villa Constance (State and Constance), Villa Miradero, (Alamar Street,) and his crowning achievement, Coronado Circle on Eucalyptus Hill in Montecito.
Bill was committed to architectural design that respected the site and integrated structures that were site specific. He designed around existing trees and boulders, often importing them, as the landscape required. On the Eucalyptus Hill project, for instance, he built 10 fewer homes than the 44 permitted on the 20 acre property, and planted 300 oak trees. This care for the environment, and ultimately the community, earned him many local and national citations, including the prestigious Santa Barbara Beautiful Award.
Bill had a well-deserved reputation for honesty, generosity, creativity, and amazing energy. His commitment to the Santa Barbara community and its institutions is abundantly evident is his years of service and dedication, having donated thousands of hours of his time throughout the years. He was very involved in Christian Business Men all his life, serving on the International Board of Directors.
He served on the boards of the Samarkand Retirement Community (where he was a founder and board chair for 17 years,) Santa Barbara Community College, Westmont College, Valle Verde Retirement community, the Rescue Mission, Channel City Club, Santa Barbara Club, Memorial Rehabilitation Foundation, Las Positas Park, and the long range planning committee of the Santa Barbara Foundation. His memberships included the Board of Realtors, University Club, The Santa Barbara Club, the Montecito Country Club, and the Birnam Wood Golf Club.
He was a lifelong member of the Rotary Club where he was given the Paul Harris Fellow Award in honor of his service to the organization, and in 1999 was honored by the Santa Barbara News Press with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a founder of the Santa Barbara Community Prayer Breakfast, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Bill’s church affiliations were fundamental to his life, actively supporting Calvary Baptist Church, Montecito Covenant (as a founding member,) and El Montecito Presbyterian Church, where he valued the pastoral care of Rev. Harold Bussell. He and Betty provided generous donations to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, United Way, El Montecito Presbyterian Church, and The Stony Brook School, to name a few.
In addition to his impressive lifelong accomplishments and generous service, Bill Alexander will be remembered and missed as a true lover of the Lord, his family, beauty, travel, music, and education. With his wife Betty, he helped create a household environment that celebrated healthy food, art, music (particularly Classical), and a love of learning: gifts his children will always cherish.
Bill’s last years were spent in complete contentment due to the tender, loving and excellent care at Valle Verde and Villa Alamar. The family will be forever grateful to these residential care facilities as well as to Assisted Hospice of Santa Barbara.
Preceded in death by his wife Betty, William is survived by his son Jeffrey (wife Teri) of Versailles KY, his son Dana (wife Dorothy) of Santa Barbara, and his daughter Nancy (husband Arthur, deceased) Simpson of Ventura. He has 7 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in the Theatre at Valle Verde Retirement Community, 900 Calle de Los Amigos on July 30, 2016 at 3pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.